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Nederlog

October 20, 2015
Crisis: Assange, Trudeau, US Inequality Worst, Krugman, Blair, Maher
"They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















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Sections
Introduction

1.
UK resisted Julian Assange’s offer to be questioned in
     London, emails reveal

2. Justin Trudeau: who is Canada's new prime minister?
3. New 2015 Wealth Data Reveal U.S. Inequality at Its
     Ugliest

4.
Paul Krugman Stands Up for Sanders, Dismantles Right-
     Wing Lies About Denmark's Economic Success Story

5.
'Duped': Tony Blair Supported Bush's Iraq War Long
     Before Vote or Invasion
6. Bill Maher on Donald Trump on Bernie Sanders

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. The title is mostly sorted by name (but I agree titles are difficult to do when one has 5 or 6 items): Item 1 is about how Assange got - I think illegally - abused by the British Crown Prosecution Service; item 2 is about Justin Trudeau's winning Canada's elections (which is Good News, which is rare in
the crisis series); item 3 is about the enormous increases in inequality in the United States ever since Reagan was elected in 1980; item 4 is about Krugman's
explication of Denmark, that I restate as the difference between the U.S.'s capitalism-without-a-human face and Denmark's capitalism-with-a-human-face;
item 5 is about a very recent show of how incredibly much Tony Blair lied about
and before the Iraq war; and item 6 is an amusing item by Bill Maher, that also
includes some inanities by Trump.

1. UK resisted Julian Assange’s offer to be questioned in London, emails reveal

The first item today is by Press Association on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Julian Assange has expressed shock after new documents revealed fresh details about the involvement of UK authorities in the long-running saga that has seen the WikiLeaks founder live inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past three years.

He was granted political asylum after fighting extradition to Sweden where he faced sex allegations, which he has always denied. Assange fears that if he goes to Sweden he will be taken to the US for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.

He has offered to be interviewed inside the embassy in London but attempts to set up a meeting have foundered.

Emails obtained by Italian news magazine L’Espresso under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service wrote to the Swedish authorities in 2011, saying it would “not be prudent” for them to interview Assange in the UK.

I say. In fact, I do not know whether I am shocked (I would be if I were Assange, but I am not in his position), for I have few illusions to loose about "British democracy" and "British law", as these have developed the last 20 years or so under Blair, Brown and Cameron.

And I will try to describe a considerable part of the executives of "British law" after quoting some more from the article:

“Any attempt to interview him under strict Swedish law would invariably be fraught with problems,” said one email, dated 25 January 2011. Another email dated 13 January 2011 said: “Please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request.”
First notice that the quoted mails are not from Cameron, but from the British Crown Prosecution Service. As a legal institution, that is supposed to be honest and objective.

This does not mean that it may not be partial (England - where I have lived in 1970ies - was then and is now far more of a class society than Holland, with far deeper rifts between the poor and the rich, and this will be somehow mirrored in its legal practices, which gets e.g. expressed by higher punishments for the poor than for the rich for the same crimes) but it does mean that the public pronouncement of legal executives should be honest and objective, and that simply because there is no honest law without it.

Well... this shows that in the case of Julian Assange
the British Crown Prosecution Service acted - deliberately, consciously, in secret - as if they were the very eager choir boys of Cameron, the GCHQ, Obama, and the NSA.

And rather than shocked I am sickened.

2.
Justin Trudeau: who is Canada's new prime minister?
The next item is by Claire Phipps on The Guardian:
This starts as follows - and is a piece of Good News (from my perspetive), for Trudeau was yesterday elected to become the next Canadian prime minister, after the rather horrible neoconservative Harper:
Just a few months ago, Justin Trudeau was an unlikely contender to be Canada’s next prime minister. Running third in the polls, behind incumbent Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the resurgent leftwing New Democratic party, Trudeau – son of legendary prime minister Pierre Trudeau – was slated as too young (he is 43) and too inexperienced to haul his beleaguered Liberal party out of the electoral mess of the 2011 general election.

I don't know who is Ms Phipps, but I don't think one is "too young" at 43 to be prime minister. That's just nonsense - one may quite plausibly argue one is too young at 25 and too old at 80, but apart from that there is no perfect age for prime ministers.

Next, there is this:

Trudeau, for all his dynastic connections, aimed to be that alternative. Almost literally born to the role of prime minister – he was born in 1971, during his father’s first term – he took a circuitous route into political life, trying his hand at teaching, engineering, bungee-jumping coaching, environmental geography, charity boxing and acting, before ousting Bloc Québécois MP Vivian Barbot to become MP for Papineau in the 2008 general election.

In 2000, at his father’s state funeral, Trudeau delivered a eulogy that stoked whispers of a dynasty that has now secured its place in Canadian history: “More than anything, to me, he was dad. And what a dad. He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life. He taught us to believe in ourselves, to stand up for ourselves, to know ourselves and to accept responsibility for ourselves."

Again I don't know who is Ms. Phipps (probably: young, naive, full of good intentions, and not too well informed) but I don't like this anti-democratic
repeated concern about Trudeau's "dynastic connections" and his "
dynasty that
has now secured its place in Canadian history
".

It is not democratic; there is no Canadian nobility of any kind; and also the whole development that leads to political dynasties (with e.g. the Bushes and the Clintons in the USA) is pretty sick - and I say this while granting Pierre Trudeau (<- Wikipedia) was a good PM (so far as I know), and Justin Trudeau is not responsible that he is his father, and was a much better candidate for being a PM than Harper.

But OK... I like it that he got elected and that Harper got ousted, and I put up a list of his promises to have a check in the future:

Trudeau on climate change

He has promised a climate change policy agreed with the provinces within 90 days of the UN climate change summit in Paris in November.

On indigenous rights

“We will build a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples on a nation-to-nation basis,” he has said. “That will include, for example, a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It will include $2.6bn over four years for First Nations education.”

On abortion

He is pro-choice: “It is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. And that is the bottom line.”

On taxes

His first move will be to raise taxes on the richest 1% to fund cuts for the middle classes.

On marijuana

Trudeau has said he would start moves to legalise it “right away”, based on the Colorado model.

On feminism

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 21, 2015 I am a feminist. I’m proud to be a feminist. #upfordebate

I agree with all that [1] but it is much easier to promise and be elected, than
to do what one promised, as Barack Obama showed so convincingly.

3. New 2015 Wealth Data Reveal U.S. Inequality at Its Ugliest

The next article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Bernie Sanders showed his outrage about inequality at the Democratic Debate, and more and more Americans are understanding his message. Indignation is likely to grow with new data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, which reveals the wealthy elite’s continuing disdain for the poor, for the middle class, and for people all around the world.
I do not know about "indignation", in part because the following facts tend to be kept away from most Americans, but I agree that the levels of inequality that the Americans reached under Bush and Obama are quite frighening (and Credit Suisse is a big Swiss bank, in case you don't know: it is not a leftist propaganda club):

1. At the Bottom: Of the Half-Billion Poorest Adults in the World, One out of Ten is an American

That seems impossible, with so many extremely poor countries, and it requires a second look at the data, and then a third look. But it’s true.
This means 50 million very poor Americans, which does look convincing to me.

2. At the Top: The Richest 1/10 of American Adults Have Averaged Over $1 Million Each in New Wealth Since the Recession

Housing rebound? Mostly for the rich, along with their taking of almost all the financial wealth. Total U.S. wealth increased by a stunning 60 percent since 2009, from $54 trillion to $86 trillion, but 3/4 of that massive increase went to the richest 10% of Americans
This must be in part due to Obama and his verbal progressiveness that rarely gets translated into action. And incidentally, this suggests that the real opposition is between the 10% at the top, who profit from the pro-rich policies, and the 90% of the rest (more than 99 vs 1 and much more so than 99.9 and 0.1 etc.) And indeed the very top also needs quite a few well-paid executives to implement their kind of policies, while buying their cooperation with excellent salaries).

3. In the Middle: The U.S. is the Only Region Where the Middle-Class Does Not Own Its Equivalent Share of Wealth

The North American middle class, as defined by Credit Suisse, and of which the U.S. is by far the largest part, has 39% of the people but only 21 percent of national wealth. Every other region of the world shows the reverse phenomenon, with the middle class owning an oversized portion of national wealth.

I do not know the definition of the Credit Suisse, but they are at least rather convincing in finding that the nominal middle class in the US owns much less
of the wealth the US produces than any other middle class in the world. ("Trickle down" does not work, if you ever believed in it.)

4. In the Upper-Middle: For a Full 70% of Americans, Percentage Ownership of National Wealth is One of the Lowest in the World

That’s 70%. Not just the most impoverished, or the poorest half, but a full 70% of us are near the bottom of the world in percentage of wealth ownership. Just 6.9 percent of the wealth is owned by 70% of us.
This similar as for the middle class.
5. The Big Picture: Only Kazakhstan, Libya, Russia, and Ukraine Have Worse Wealth Inequality than the United States
I say. And this has nearly all been done since Reagan became president...

But these are quite sad figures, which do show how well the majority of the American electorate has been deceived. In case you doubt this, here is again
an image I showed several times:



This is divided into the top 10% in red, and the bottom 10% in blue (which are far more numerous than the relatively few rich). Also, the enormous increases of the few rich started under Reagan, and continued ever since.

4. Paul Krugman Stands Up for Sanders, Dismantles Right-Wing Lies About Denmark's Economic Success Story

The next article is by Janet Allon on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Krugman takes on the hoary right-wing myth that Denmark, the country touted by the Sanders campaign as getting a lot of things right, is somehow a dangerous example of runaway socialism in Monday's column.
Actually, the right-wing myth is total crap: Denmark is just as capitalist as the USA, but the big differences are that (1) it doesn't have a very powerful, very rich extremely right wing set of Republican liars, and (2) it therefore shows capitalism-
with-a-human-face, which is mostly based on high taxes for high incomes, which is quite justified according to the Supreme Court judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr
(and myself): "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society" (which is a direct quote from Holmes).

Here is Krugman (and I know a bit more about Denmark, because my brother lives there the last 30 years, and also know considerably more about Norway, which is similar, because I lived there for nearly 3 years in the 1970ies, but was - alas, alas -
mad enough to return to Amsterdam to study [2]):

Denmark maintains a welfare state — a set of government programs designed to provide economic security — that is beyond the wildest dreams of American liberals. Denmark provides universal health care; college education is free, and students receive a stipend; day care is heavily subsidized. Overall, working-age families receive more than three times as much aid, as a share of G.D.P., as their U.S. counterparts.

To pay for these programs, Denmark collects a lot of taxes. The top income tax rate is 60.3 percent; there’s also a 25 percent national sales tax. Overall, Denmark’s tax take is almost half of national income, compared with 25 percent in the United States.

That is, once again: Denmark is as capitalist as the United States, but it cares about everyone and not just the 10% of the richest people who live there. And that also is most of the whole difference between the two countries, which get mostly effected by higher taxes on the rich, which is fair because the rich profit the most anyway.

And no: Denmark is not socialist, and never was. It only shows what is possible under capitalism-with-a-human-face:

Krugman also debunks the myth that Danes are melancholy (on accoiunt of all that vacation, prosperity and free stuff). Denmark ranks at or near the top on international comparisons of “life satisfaction."

"It’s hard to imagine a better refutation of anti-tax, anti-government economic doctrine, which insists that a system like Denmark’s would be completely unworkable," Krugman concludes.
Yes, indeed - but this also was the lying propaganda from the richest 1% who advertise, with lies and deceptions, that their capitalism-without-a-human-face
is better than the Danish
capitalism-with-a-human-face. Well, it is a crooked,
wicked intentional lie: It is only better for the very rich, and much poorer for
the rest.

5. 'Duped': Tony Blair Supported Bush's Iraq War Long Before Vote or Invasion

The next article is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

One year before the United States-led coalition invaded Iraq, then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the administration of President George W. Bush that he would support military action in that country, according to a memo publicized Sunday by the Daily Mail.

The revelation "flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s public claims at the time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis," the Mail points out. "He told voters: 'We're not proposing military action'—in direct contrast to what the secret email now reveals."

The document, written in March 2002 by ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell to Bush, was contained in a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

"On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary," Powell wrote in a memo penned one week before Blair met Bush at the former president's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

I say. Am I amazed? Not really, for I thought myself, ever since having seen Blair on TV in 1994, in front of a huge blue blackground, set off as a very special person, speaking from high on down to his Labour voters below, that he was a hypocrite, a liar and a deceiver if I ever saw any.

So in that sense I am not amazed, and also not by his turning Catholic and possessing 50 million pounds, plus-minus 30 million pounds: That also seemed to have been his real end since 1994 (especially the tens of millions of pounds).

But he is a bloody impertinent major fraud:

According to the Mail, "A second explosive memo from the same cache also reveals how Bush used 'spies' in the Labour Party to help him to manipulate British public opinion in favour of the war."

The revelations drew outrage from current and former MPs, at least one of whom said he felt "duped."

Former Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay, who sat on the foreign affairs select committee in the run-up to the war, told LBC Radio that he is "ashamed" to have trusted Blair about the Iraq War. "Looking at this these documents this morning and everything else that has gone before we know that this was a complete and utter deceit to me and to others," he said.

"Obviously I feel both deeply ashamed and very stupid having trusted a British prime minister, but it was a British prime minister," MacKinlay added. "One assumed that even allowing for exaggeration or inaccuracies in intelligence, I never thought it would be one hundred percent untrue, but it was—and myself and the British people, all of us, were duped."

But Tony Blair lied "hundred percent", simply because he wanted to kill people, it seems, and thus acquire great riches for himself.

Here is some more:

And former Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis told the Mail that "[t]he memos prove in explicit terms what many of us have believed all along: Tony Blair effectively agreed to act as a frontman for American foreign policy in advance of any decision by the House of Commons or the British Cabinet."

Davis went on: "He was happy to launder George Bush’s policy on Iraq and sub-contract British foreign policy to another country without having the remotest ability to have any real influence over it. And in return for what?"

"For George Bush pretending Blair was a player on the world stage to impress voters in the UK when the Americans didn’t even believe it themselves," he concluded.

And it worked. And thus there were by 2006, according to a Lancet survey (<- Wikipdia) a mere 601,207 Iraqis killed, while Tony Blair massed up his millions.

6. Bill Maher on Donald Trump on Bernie Sanders

The last item is not an article but is a video by Bill Maher on what the Republicans hear when Bernie Sanders speaks:

It is here because I like it, and also because it shows the lies of Donald Trump. It will not take more than 3 m 12 s, and it is somewhat instructive.

---------------------------------------------

P.S. Oct 21, 2015: I inserted the link to item 6 (Bill Maher) that for some reason fell out.

Notes


[1] With feminism as a partial exception, I should add, but that is mostly because it is a very slippery term that changes meaning every 10 years or so.
Also, in the 1980ies and 1990ies feminism was far too tied up with postmodernism for me to be able to take it seriously.

But yes, apart from that I am for equal rights, for abortion, and for equal pay for women.

[2] That really was the biggest mistake I made in my life, that would have been very different without it (for I could have studied in Norway). It really was a big mistake, and the only "excuse" I have for it is that I knew much less about Holland and the Dutch universities (which then were - formally - in the hands of the students, as nowhere else in the world) than I soon learned when arrived there.

Indeed, that would have moved me back to Norway by 1980, at the latest, if I had not fallen ill in Holland on 1.1.1979, which I still am...

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